|Nihad Dedovic paid tribute to Bosnia and Herzegovina's travelling fans who witnessed the historical win over Montenegro|
By Paul Nilsen
They say patience is a virtue and all good things are worth waiting for.
In the case of both Finland and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the lengthy wait for a victory at EuroBasket Final Round has tested those two theories to the absolute limit.
However, inside the space of just 48 hours in Alytus, a couple of EuroBasker ghosts were laid to rest as firstly Bosnia and Herzegovina stormed to their first success in 18 years, before Finland followed suit with their first win since 1977 and their first victory during the initial group phase since 1967.
In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, their accomplishment arguably flew under the radar a little and has perhaps sullied a little by their subsequent trashing at the hands of Finland.
Nevertheless, head coach Sabit Hadzic wasn't prepared to dilute how important it was for his nation to secure a very precious and memorable victory, touching on the wider implications of a successful national team.
"It was a big victory for us and for our country after so many years," he said.
"With all the problems that we have in our country which are also sometimes transferred onto our basketball, we showed that we can be above all of that.
"Sport is one of the few things that could lead this country ahead and we are giving our best to do that."
From a players perspective, Nihad Dedovic may only be 21-years-old and was barely walking back when Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Sweden, but he still appreciates what the win against Montenegro meant for basketball in his country and especially for the fans who have travelled to watch the team in action.
"I am happy to be part of the team that won at EuroBasket after so many years," he said.
"I am glad that we made our fans happy and also I hope that this will not be our last victory.
"It is nice to see our fans here that came a very long way to be here and to support us, and I would like to say a big thank you to them because they gave us the strength to make it through this game and to win it at the end."
Dedovic added: "The team appreciates it and I am hoping that in the next games there will be more of them here."
|Petteri Koponen played a leading role in Finland's defeat of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday|
Meanwhile, there was something of a triumphant atmosphere inside the Alytus Arena when a rampant Finland played so beautifully well in their game against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
While they did win during a game used for final classification of the teams in 1977, you have to go back some 44 years for their last success during the initial group phase of a Final Round tournament.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the large following of Finnish fans celebrated wildly after breaking such a barren run with Finland Coach Henrik Dettman very much aware of what it meant to everyone concerned with Finnish basketball.
"I think we showed with this win and with the support we have in Alytus that basketball is very much in the hearts of Finns," he said.
"It was our first win for a very long time and I have to dedicate the victory to our fans and to our Sport and Culture minister Paavo Arhinmäki who has been giving great support here to the team."
With something of a new chapter having been written, the real test for Finland and Bosnia and Herzegovina is to ensure next time, the wait for Final Round success isn't quite as long.
Fortunately for both nations, there is still a great opportunity in Group C to solve to meet this particular aim.